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How to Host a Budget-Friendly Backyard Wedding

As wedding costs soar, couples are finding creative ways to save money while also personalizing the experiences for guests.

Just when you think you’ve hit a ceiling for high wedding costs, the price tag skyrockets even further. According to wedding planning site, the average cost of a wedding in 2016 was $35,329 —an increase of 8% over the prior year. The main culprits? An increased focus on personalization and improving guests’ experiences. Both are worthy goals, but the truth is you can accomplish a lot without saying “I Do” to debt along with a new spouse.

To help keep costs in check, brides and grooms are increasingly opting for less traditional DIY-style weddings and hosting their big days in their own backyards. Given this cheap and simple wedding trend, Trulia reached out to San Francisco wedding planner and event producer Gina Rosales—founder and owner of Make it Mariko Events—for her advice on best to plan a backyard wedding.

4 Tips to Host a Charming Backyard Wedding

  • Even though a majority of Americans are friendly with their neighbors, many still gripe about typical pet peeves, like noise problems. To ensure you maintain a friendly relationship with Bob and Sue next door, talk with them about your plans as soon as you know them. It’s important they understand what they might expect so you can address any potential concerns they may have, whether parking or excessive noise. If you’re new to the area, consider bringing your new neighbors a gift as an icebreaker as you establish new neighborly relationships.
  • According to Rosales, even though couples are hosting huge backyard weddings (or in a friend or family member’s yard), they still need to create a special experience for their guests. “You can’t just wing it,” she says. To begin your planning, she says, think about the flow of how guests will arrive and where they’ll tend to spend the most time during the wedding. This will help ensure you have enough space, seating, and walking room for everyone. Some specific questions to consider:
    • Where will guests enter the reception? What part of the home will form their first impression?
    • Will guests be sitting for the ceremony? If so, where?
    • Where will the wedding party make their grand entrance?
    • Will older guests need special considerations?
    • How will you guide guests to the restrooms?
  • Depending on where you live, any number of weather-related disasters could ruin your big day so Rosales advises her clients to always have a backup plan. If the weather takes a turn for the worst, will all the guests fit in your house? If not, invest in a pop-up tent (or bigger structure, depending on your guest list size) and have them handy and ready to go… just in case. “If you’re expecting colder weather,” Rosales says, “rent heat lamps or purchase decorative blankets for guests to use during the wedding; as a bonus, these aids can double as personalized wedding favors!”  And overall, regardless of what the thermometer says, make sure your guests will be comfortable.
  • If any portion of your outdoor reception will take place at night, ensure that any and all high-traffic areas will be adequately, but not offensively, lit.To pull this off, Rosales suggests investing in string lights to hang outside or renting heat lamps, which can double as toasty spaces that guests can enjoy throughout the evening. “Lanterns with LED lights are another great option and create a beautiful outdoor ambiance,” she says.

“Overall, just because you’re keeping things DIY doesn’t mean that your guest experience still can’t be amazing!” says Rosales. “And the happier your guests are, the more you will enjoy your big day with all your loved ones.”

Have you planned a backyard wedding? What did you do to make sure your neighbors comfortable with it?